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Magners Preview: Munster v Ospreys

Magners Preview: Munster v Ospreys

One of the biggest matches of the Magners League’s opening rounds takes place at Thomond Park on Saturday as unbeaten Munster entertain title holders, the Ospreys. Can Tony McGahan’s charges mark Alan Quinlan’s big day with a win?

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Saturday, September 18

MUNSTER (4th) v OSPREYS (5th), Thomond Park Stadium, 8pm (live RTE 2)

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Team News: Alan Quinlan, who celebrated his 36th birthday in July, will this weekend become just the second Munster player to reach the 200-cap mark.

In the coming weeks, the Tipperary-born back rower is set to create a new caps record for Munster, surpassing former captain Anthony Foley (201 caps).

And it is his passion for the red jersey that has kept Quinlan, now in his 15th season of professional rugby, at the top according to Mick Galwey, who was the first Munster player to win 100 caps.

“I remember when he started first. His first game in fact, his first few games and then his first Heineken Cup,” recalled Galwey.

“I could see it meant so much to him and even to this day I can still see that putting on the Munster jersey means so much to Alan.

“That’s the reason he’s still there. He doesn’t take it for granted. We always said that any day you pull on a Munster jersey is a great day and Quinny would always be thinking along those lines.”

Selection wise, the inclusion of scrum half Tomas O’Leary is the only change to the Munster back-line that started last weekend’s win over Edinburgh.

Up front, Munster will start Saturday’s game with the front five that finished against Edinburgh. Donnacha Ryan is retained in the second row, with Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes and Donncha O’Callaghan brought into the starting line-up.

The back row combination is unchanged, stand-in captain Denis Leamy leads it alongside Quinlan and Niall Ronan.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Tommy Bowe will line up at outside centre for the Ospreys’ trip to Limerick, which will mark his first start of the season.

The Welsh region’s new captain Alun Wyn Jones also returns to the starting line-up, while front rowers Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard bolster the replacements bench.

The Ospreys have a number of internationals to come back, including the injured Ryan Jones, James Hook and Mike Phillips.

Bowe’s inclusion comes at the expense of Gareth Owen who drops to the replacements bench, while there are three changes to the pack that started last weekend’s bonus point 32-16 victory over Benetton Treviso.

Paul James, Craig Mitchell and Alun Wyn Jones come in for Ryan Bevington, Cai Griffiths and the benched Ian Gough respectively.

MUNSTER: Felix Jones; Doug Howlett, Johne Murphy, Sam Tuitupou, Ian Dowling; Paul Warwick, Tomas O’Leary; Marcus Horan, Denis Fogarty, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Donnacha Ryan, Alan Quinlan, Niall Ronan, Denis Leamy (capt).

Replacements: Damien Varley, Wian du Preez, Tony Buckley, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony, Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara, Danny Barnes.

OSPREYS: Lee Byrne; Nikki Walker, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Bishop, Shane Williams; Dan Biggar, Jamie Nutbrown; Paul James, Mefin Davies, Craig Mitchell, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Ian Evans, Jerry Collins, Marty Holah, Jonathan Thomas.

Replacements: Richard Hibbard, Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Ian Gough, Ben Lewis, Rhys Webb, Gareth Owen, Richard Fussell.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Alan Rogan, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Munster to win: 4/7; Draw: 20/1; Ospreys to win: 7/5

Pre-Match Quotes: Shaun Payne (Munster) – “Last week against Edinburgh we lacked patience. We could have tacked on more points in that game but we failed to convert.

“It was the same last season against the Ospreys here in Thomond Park. It was our mistakes last season and a good performance from the Ospreys that was the difference.

“Our lack of discipline has been highlighted too. It was not good enough for us last term, so we need to make sure we keep our heads on Saturday. With someone like Dan Biggar in their side, they will punish us. He didn’t miss a kick last season.

“The Ospreys are absolutely stronger than last season. After the result here last season and the winning of the league too, they are so much more dangerous this season.

“They have always had the weapons to be very successful. The quality of player is always there and now they have the confidence to go on and move to the next level. They are a dangerous, dangerous team for us.”

Sean Holley (Ospreys) – “It’s a big game for us, it always is, and the fact that it is so early in the season is irrelevant. Munster are one of only two unbeaten teams in the league even at this stage, so it’s important for us that we look to stop them building up a gap on us in the first month.

“Saying that, leagues aren’t won in September so lets not build it up too much, we are building week by week, slowly re-integrating our international players, and win, lose or draw this weekend, we expect to make another big step forward.

“We play Munster four times this season, so it’s a bit of a mini league we’ll have going over the coming months. They are a team that we have the utmost respect for and I think that’s mutual. They’ve had a good start, there’ll be a big crowd there and it’ll be tough, I’ve no doubt about that.

“But we’ll go there with confidence and belief in ourselves. With the likes of Alun Wyn (Jones) and Tommy (Bowe) coming back into the starting fifteen, Adam (Jones) on the bench, and with the likes of Ryan (Jones) and Mike (Phillips) now approaching the end of their pre-season we are starting to get a bit more strength in depth.

“What we need to do now is kick on from where we were after the Treviso game last weekend.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Munster – Points: Paul Warwick 19; Tries: Niall Ronan 2; Ospreys – Points: Dan Biggar 28; Tries: Richard Fussell, Dan Biggar, Lee Byrne, Nikki Walker, Andrew Bishop, Jonathan Thomas, Shane Williams 1 each


Sunday, October 14, 2007 – Ospreys 16 Munster 3, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, April 19, 2008 – Munster 9 Ospreys 8, Musgrave Park
Friday, January 9, 2009 – Ospreys 21 Munster 25, Liberty Stadium
Friday, May 15, 2009 – Munster 36 Ospreys 10, Thomond Park
Saturday, December 5, 2009 – Ospreys 19 Munster 14, Liberty Stadium
Saturday, April 24, 2010 – Munster 11 Ospreys 15, Thomond Park


– Munster and Ulster are the only teams to begin this season’s Magners League with successive victories

– The last time the Munstermen won their opening three league games was when they claimed the Magners League title in thw 2008/09 season

– Munster have lost their last two games at Thomond Park Stadium in the Magners League

– The Ospreys have won five of their last six games in the Magners League, and have been victorious on four of their last six visits to Ireland

– The Ospreys achieved a Magners League double over Munster last season for the first time since the 2003/04 season, including a 19-14 win at Thomond Park in April